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Civilization 5 Makes You Pay More for Babylon

May 6th, 2010 by Troy Goodfellow · 50 Comments · Firaxis, Industry

I love Civilization. Millions of us do.

I love Babylon and Nebuchadnezzar. Hundreds of us do.

But the idea of paying for a Digital Deluxe Edition if I want the Babylonians as a playable Civ? Not nice, 2k Games. Not nice at all.

I get the business thinking here – bonuses for special editions or early orders is standard operating procedure now. And if you are going with Steam you need to have something to encourage the digital downloads. And Steam is great when it works, which is most of the time. It’s a DRM scheme that we’ve become used to.

But have they thought through the impact here? Civilization multiplayer is getting more popular and viable with every version. If I buy the Digital Deluxe Edition and choose Babylon, will any of my friends who do not have this version be able to play me? What if I don’t choose Babylon, but they are still in the game somewhere (the Civilopedia entries, for example). Does that mean we can’t play together? Will people be able to buy Babylon separately as DLC? Though I can imagine 2k has visions of making a lot of money by trickling out new nations as DLC, this would just make the MP problems even larger. I have Babylon but not Holland, Tom has Holland but not Canada, Bruce has Canada but not Babylon…

This is not really new, I suppose, if you consider expansion pack compatibility, but this is one nation. A single Civ. No other gameplay additions. And this could cut many users off from each other.

Even more fundamentally, Firaxis is seen as one of the good guys in the business. This is obviously not their call – this is a publisher decision – but this decision does take some of the shine off the idea of this small, user friendly developer that churns out good games without the need for a huge media machine or developer drama.

Civilization is a game that has always embraced a complete toybox approach to design. Everyone who bought it got to experience playing as Caesar or Mao or Gandhi. And it’s not like Babylon is Portgual – no offense to my Portuguese readers. This is a major foundational civilization and one of the originals from the first Civ. (Also the first time Hammurabi is not the leader, by the way.) This business decision is a small one, but one that strikes at the core of what Civ has always been about.

This is not the same as preorders getting new uniforms or cavalry troops in Napoloen: Total War. This is like preorders being able to play the Swedes when no one else does.

This makes me a little angry. (Even though the Mesopotamia Map Pack will be cool.)


50 Comments so far ↓

  • Paul

    Don’t forget the modding angle here too. Firaxis claimed that this new Civ will be more open to modding than Civ IV. Will this extra content be locked from mod makers? What about modding in my own Babylon?

  • Thomas Kiley

    Hopefully they will do what THQ did with Chaos Rising: everyone gets to see and play against the stuff, you just can’t play with it. That way the online community won’t get fractured. It even makes business sense: if you see everyone playing with army X you might be like, that looks cool, I should buy that too.

  • Rob Zacny

    I hate this kind of thing in general, but if it has to happen, let’s bear in mind that consumers need, and deserve, to see added value in the special version. But what 2K has done here is reduce the value of the standard version and put the “complete” game into a premium package.

    And if Civ V keeps up the trend of differentiating the civilizations from one another? Then this would be really obnoxious.

  • Punning Pundit

    I paid the extra $10 for the soundtrack– I generally find Civ music to be excellent.

  • blahblarg

    I bought the special edition of Civ IV as well.

    This exclusive civilization still irks me as does potentially having to buy individual civilizations as DLC which I’m sure they’re planning. Even though added civilizations in expansion packs sort of count as a megabundle of DLC, I can foresee keeping track of what civilizations you’ve bought andwho has what in multiplayer and for mods getting out of hand quickly amongst other issues.

  • James Allen

    I assume that Babylon will be included with every install of Civ V, but you just won’t be able to use them unless you input a key included with the special edition. Some game that currently escapes my memory had “day one DLC” that was actually included on the disk and simply required you to pay more money to access it.

  • Jimmy Brown

    This is a pretty shady move on 2K’s part. In this case, it would be more accurate to call them the Standard and Minus Editions. It’s not that bonus content is anything new; but it’s rarely something so basic to the game, and that rarely done by a game from a reputable developer.

    Maybe instead they should make Steamworks the bonus.

  • Noah

    The Babylonian element doesn’t bother me too much, but I’m wondering if the Mesopotamia map pack will be exclusive to Steam purchases. I love ancient civilization content, particularly when it is in real-world geography (as much as I love the Civ series, I prefer to play civs in their actual locations not an alternate-Earth arrangement), so this map pack is a definite want for me. But I’d far prefer to buy the boxed version of the game rather than a download.

  • Nikolaj

    I’m guessing that Babylon will be available as DLC, and that people who buy the Deluxe Edition will be able to play with people who only have the regular game.

    Still, I generally dislike DLC. I always end up feeling that I don’t have the complete game if I don’t buy it, and when games announce DLC schemes ahead of release, I often find myself holding off on the purchase for a year or two, untill a complete edition is released. I think that will be the case with Civ5, since I’m not that excited about it anyway. I’ve had my doubts about Firaxis since Civ4: Colonization.

  • Quinten

    I think this is not as big a deal as you guys make it out to be. Soren Johnson said on TMA that Civ was hard to do in installments or with DLC. This is 2K trying to get some of that DLC or special edition cash. Is Babylon that big a deal? I understand the principle, and if you are an ancients buff it could be a problem for you.
    If they offered extra civs as DLC, I would pay three bucks to play as a new Civ, we already did with expansion packs. I am sure the Babylon stuff will be made available later as DLC, and I don’t mind that.
    I just hope they don’t get into nickel and dime territory like Hearts of Iron 3 with nation skins, or into the extremes of paying $15 for a couple of old maps and a few game modes… *Cough cough, Modern Warfare, cough cough*

  • Budo

    Disgraceful. This is like buying a Madden game and discovering they save the running back for the deluxe version. Hey you have 10 other players that’s enough for you Mr. loyal customer…

    Oh well, time to play Civ IV, now available complete with the expansions and Colonizations for $10 on Steam this weekend!

  • Joseph Crook

    I am not a big fan of Steam, so you can probably guess how I feel about this. The last saving grace for me, is if a physical copy will not require steam. If it is for the digital version only, then I’m ok with that. It’s a shame really. Civ was the last series I thought would make me have to deal with this sort of thing. Shame on you 2K!

    Hopefully public reaction will save this game while there is still time.

  • Erik Hanson

    Forget Portugal. Why in the name of all that is true and noble would anyone buy Canada and not Babylon?

  • Tim James

    This is an interesting switch. DLC in general is typically awful right now, so instead they move a major feature there. Solves one problem and causes another.

  • Jimmy Brown

    Sorry, Joseph, but the physical copies will require Steam, too.

  • Sarkus

    I’m not too worried about this. There are plenty of other strategy games that have managed to make the exclusive stuff work in multiplayer. I’d point to Empire:TW as an example.

    I’m also sure Babylon and the other stuff will be available seperately and that none of this will impact the modability of the game, if that’s important to you.

    Let’s be realistic – some form of DRM is now going to be standard on big releases. I’d much rather deal with Steam as the DRM then have 2K go the Ubisoft route.

  • rsm

    I’ve been a life-long civ fan, and I own the deluxe versions of both III and IV. If everything is not included in the collector’s or deluxe (or whatever they call it) physical box edition, they’ve lost a sale. I was unhappy with Bioware/EA for this approach to DA:O, but beyond the annoying camp quest giver (which mods can remove) there was nothing that really differentiated gameplay over the different pre-order/dl versions. It was a minor item that made the game easier, and if there is something the game doesn’t need it is to be easier.

    Civ without a civ is dodgy at best. Civ with a new young designer moving away from some of the tried and true elements of the game, and you’re taking out single civs and giving them as ‘bonuses’ for certain pre-order version… bad form. And oops, lost a sale. I will admit, I have a hard time seeing what could be turned into DLC other than map packs or a civ pack, for Civ, still, I don’t see why there would have to be DLC for the game. I get what 2k is doing, they’ve just failed with me as a player.

  • Skyrider

    Don’t much care for the idea of special content when it has an in-game effect. For years, I have contended that the consumer is ultimately his/her own worst enemy on this subject. If enough people show their displeasure by simply holding on to their money and passing on deals such as this one, the marketers would devise other avenues in which to money grub. Just because the serpent offers the proverbial apple, you don’t necessarily have to eat it.

  • rsm


    If they go the Ubisoft route they won’t sell another game. Seriously, I have no problems not buying Ubisoft games, I’d even planned to buy Settlers 7, but it’s no big deal really.

    Civ has generally been a franchise I’ve supported, but if they go the Ubisoft route I won’t buy another 2k game or Firaxis game. No skin off my nose as there are developers out there who won’t screw me without lube for buying their product. Civ, venerable and enjoyable as it is, at age 31 it is hardly a necessity, nor is the peer purchasing pressure very strong. I would have liked to introduce my kids to Civ, but it’s not like Civ 4 won’t do as the introductory game.

  • Grogtank

    Civ is a tired franchise and this move may just put it over the hill.

    The late game sprawl and associated micro has never been dealt with. A shift of focus from city level to empire level is needed.

    The combat model went from playable to pathetic when they removed zones of control and ranged bombardment. Although Civ5 looks to be improving this area.

    I’m not sure I have any desire to play Civilization again. This new purchasing scheme doesn’t help. Content continuity within the community is a must.

  • Otis

    Well I was worried about having to pick between between Civ V and Elemental but it looks like 2K has made the decision for me.

  • Latrine

    I think people are overreacting here. I’m sure they’ve put in the technical support to allow everyone with the base game to play with each other. Also I don’t think a single Civ is that big of a deal. You have 18 other Civs to play with and I personally never played with more than 9 in any given game. Traditionally the gameplay differences between Civs aren’t huge, just a few leader perks and some unit replacements. Also there isn’t a lot of other content they could add in place of a Civ. New units and technology would certainly break compatibility while new maps aren’t as exciting for most people. A new Civ is just enough work, in animating the leaders and designing the bonuses and AI differences, that it’s worth charging extra for, most likely won’t destabilize the balance between players, and is appealing to consumers who just want a little more.

  • Quinten

    I assure you I am more outraged than anyone in the whole entire galaxy! I will never buy a game by a guy with the same letter’s as Sid Meir’s name! I also will not buy a game with the letters 2 or K! this is an outrage, demanding I buy a special edition! I cannot buy any other edition! oh… there is a regular edition which has the entire game with no missing features… well, I am still outraged! This is the typical Micro$oft/$ony/$inte$do money grabbing Ubi$oft monopoly evil plan! I will never buy a game again from a publisher or a developer that has a game on steam!
    Oh, no, I didn’t get upset about this happening with Dawn of War 2, but it didn’t require $team! oh… it did.
    Well, I will never buy a game again that locks away vital content! Like Dragon Age, or Battlefield, or Modern Warfare 2! or any other game I have bought that has awesome sweet DLC. That. I. Will. Not. Buy!
    But when you see me playing Civ5 on $team, pretend it isn’t me.

  • Grogtank

    Sorry but I like to sell games I don’t use anymore. I’m done with Civ.

    Maybe we need VRM (vroom hah!) for auto manufacturers. Once you buy it you’re stuck with it and can’t resell it! Think of all the sales auto manufacturers miss out on when people buy used cars!

    You publishing hacks supporting this scam can jump off a bridge.

  • Krister

    The idea of added content for a more expensive, or rather: of withheld content for a less expensive version isn’t new. Troy, I can assure you, this will only affect your desire to play with Tom and Bruce, not your ability to do so. Who wants to constantly be reminded of publisher policies while playing a game? That’s the snag. In a game against the Babylonians, I’ll be rushing one civilization against another, like I always did. But I’ll also be thinking: “He must have caved in. Way to go, 2K.”

  • Javier-de-Ass

    Steam alone is a dealbreaker for me, I can’t stand running that program. But the DLC greed crap aswell, ugh.

  • JonathanStrange

    Not a dealbreaker for me at all: whether no Babylon or Steam content. I’m playing!

    I love Civ though I must point out: there are so many different enjoyable games that it (assuming this version’s fun) will not be the big deal it was to me when I was 13-years-old and playing Civ2. Too many games nowadays.

  • Oak


    That apple was eaten and digested a while ago.

  • skshrews

    If it’s the price for getting Civ V produced, in an age when large scale strategy games are increasingly rare, I’ll pay it.

    It’s capitalism, it’s the future of gaming, and it’s going to happen whether you like it or not.

  • frags

    The best way to send a message is to not buy it! Buy the standard edition. It’s what I have done with all games that have exclusive content for special editions.

  • JonathanStrange

    Alas Babylonia! Regarded as essential, yet not deemed worthy of a few extra shekels to purchase!

    Now only aristocrats, temple priests, and the richer scribes will be able to experience thee!

    Is this what the future portends? What will follow? A la carte civilizations? The paradox of choice; should one purchase Assyria or Sumeria or…

  • lesslucid

    Wouldn’t it be even better to lock out some branches of the tech tree for the plebs who refuse to spring for the gold-plated edition? So they could sort-of see the game, get a look at the graphics and stuff, but have to fork out extra to play it for real? Hey, and maybe make controlling the division of labour in your cities and the movement of your units dependent on buying the special edition, too! If the normal version is a kind of pseudo-interactive demo, then pretty much everyone will have to get the special edition, right?

  • Black Bart

    Shiver me timbers! I ne’er would’a expected this from th’ same company that made th’ most excellent game “Pirates”. It seems anything be possible these days. I have th’ perfect solution t’ this problem though. Vote wit’ yer doubloons and pirate th’ game like any true buccaneer! Show those wretched corporate curs who be th’ boss. That way ye be gettin’ th’ game an’ all th’ neutered content them think them can try t’ force us t’ pay fer, even though it should be included from th’ beginnin’. Give them scurvy bastards not a single coin!

  • Oliver Godfreed

    As others have mentioned, players will most likely be able to interact with Babylon even if they can’t play AS Babylon. Firaxis may be capitalist but they’re not completely dense.

    We’ll also have to wait and see what the regular release version looks like. If you can play the standard version without Babylon and it’s still a good game at a good price, then really you haven’t lost anything. Is it not like purchasing a car and then getting upset that the model with air conditioning costs more? If being able to play as Babylon is a necessity for you, then you just have to decide if the price of the super-mega edition is fair or not.

    I long for the day when these bloody money-based decisions aren’t a factor in game production, but I understand that’s the price we pay for capitalism.

  • Krupo

    All this empty kvetching – check the press release to inform someone who’s no doubt got their finger on the pulse of GamerNation.
    “2K Games
    Jennie Sue, 415-507-7861

    Let Jennie know if you think this is a stupid move.

    I for one was also annoyed by the $10 Steam sale being NOT COOL – i.e. the complete pack didn’t let you share Colonization with a friend if you already owned it.

    Solution of course is to gift the entire package to someone very close to you instead, as odd as that is a response, I suppose!

    The biggest upside from this being on Steam is that shooting-themselves-in-the-foot-but-good-for-consumers tradition: just wait for the gold super deluxe edition to come out down the road, and then come on sale once all the yobs have dumped $150 on what you’re going to get for less than a tenth the price. I can wait. I’ve barely finished more than half the titles I’ve collected over the past decade.

  • JonathanStrange

    How is Steam having a sale “shooting-themselves-in-the-foot?” It’s a standard and effective way of generating extra revenue from old games from all those who would rather wait months or years rather than pay full price.

    It’s a rational system for Steam and a rational decision by the gamer who’s interested in a game – but not at the full price. The Complete Civ sale by Steam was logical; I bet people who already had bought Civ years ago paid again just for completeness sake or for convenience. And those who were only mildly interested in Civ could try it for a relatively trivial sum.

  • zipdrive

    @JonathanStrange – Krupo was referring to the non-sharing of Colonization.

    @Krupo – I, for one, will be writing to that address you’ve posted.

    @Black Bart – Pirating it would do nothing but make 2K wish for a harsher DRM.

    @skshrews – it is NOT inevitable – the gamer public has the ability, if not the will, to change this.

    Personally, I hate the Steam decision – I want to give or loan my games to family and friends once I’m done with them. Now I can’t do it.

    Regarding Babylonia: It’s a tricky thing to make a piece of content appear to the public as “extra money for extra content” rather than “extra money for basic content”. I think 2K failed here.

    @Rob – “consumers need, and deserve, to see added value in the special version” – why does there need to be a special version at all? For many years games had a single version and we were all happy, no?

    Even if one wants to make a special edition, why tamper with game options? Aren’t soundtracks, behind the scenes videos, concept art, cosmetic changes and/or prior access to DLC enough?

  • Link Dump « OSG: Best Place for Online Strategy Games

    […] Flash of Steel discusses Civilziation 5′s announcement that playing as the Babylonians will only be available in the Deluxe Edition. He is not happy about it. […]

  • Anon

    I planned to buy this game as soon as it was released, but now I will be taking a visit to the piratebay instead. The idea of paying for extras (such as expansion packs) is not an issue for me, as it costs money to produce the new content and so I understand you gotta pay for that.

    I also understand the idea of releasing a “Special Edition” for the more die-hard fans or simply those with deeper pockets, for extra things that don’t affect gameplay, like the “behind the scenes” DVD or soundtrack.

    What I don’t agree with is removing something from the game, that has already been developed, purely for the purpose of generating extra revenue by forcing people to download the “Deluxe Edition” for what is essentially just a standard edition of the game.

    I would of been happy to purchase this game for it’s full price from a store, I would of even been happy to use steam (as I understand this is mostly an anti-piracy measure).

    But I will not be paying for a game which has been made worse on purpose when I can easily get a pirated version of the game, complete with all the DLC within (probably) a few weeks of it’s release. And I’m sure there will be many people who will be doing exactly the same thing as me.

  • civfanatic

    I like to play games with friends i own 2 pc’s, now me n friends can’t play each other with out buying 2 copies. Also this DLC crap once you hear that you just know there’s going to be like 4-5 of them. After there done with the DLC you will see the whole chunk of the game cut to sell later for more $. I personally would rather have the whole game upfront then i can make an informed decision if the game is worth it. One last thing is anyone else think this game looks … well not like a civ game? IF i get this it is way down the road unless i play a demo and fall in love!!

  • juxtapose

    Wow, there are a TON of whiney children in here.

    What’s the big deal? What is so game breaking about not having Babylon?!? They’re obviously going to allow both versions of the game to play together, so who cares? There are 18 Civs in the standard game and you’re not even going to play half of them. Why do you need one more?

    I agree that a lot of DLC and “deluxe” editions these days are bull and not worth the money, but to say that you’re never going to buy Civ 5 just because you don’t like it is retarded. NO ONE IS FORCING YOU DO BUY THE DELUXE EDITION, AND THERE’S NOTHING GAME BREAKING ABOUT NOT BUYING IT! GET OVER IT!!!

  • Nelson

    I just purchased and installed CIV 5. While viewing the beginning video I receive and notice saying that the game has stopped working. FIRAXIS, what’s up with this? Does anyone know?

  • Nelson

    It has stopped working 6 times

  • Ruskov


    because the next Civ game will be like Mafia 2 if 2k are still the publisher.

  • Hamanu

    Well apart from crap that is that we dont get all civs whats the deal with buying a DVD with the game on and then steam then insist on downloading the whole damn game any way since i doubt that the 4 GB steam decided to download was extra content why not make the game installable from DVD when you bought the DVD version ?

  • Minerva’s Den and DLC | RobZacny.com

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  • Matt Arnold

    I love to get as much research as possible so Babylon is awesome. The only other one I liked was Siam since you get extra food, and population is what gives you your base research. I wish you could have picked Mongolia or Babylon for free. I don’t usually like to play militarily.

  • Angry Portuguese

    Are you saying that portuguese history isn’t important and its not interesting? Then I say that you didn’t pay much atencion in you’re history lessons! Go search the web and then talk!

  • Angry Portuguese 2

    I agree with Angry Portuguese. Portugal Rocks!


  • Troy

    Wow. That was unexpected anger.

    Love Portugal, love the Portuguese and am very familiar with her global empire and discoveries. A small nation that did great things for a couple of hundred years.

    All I meant was that Babylon can be seen as a foundational culture in human history, where Portugal would be yet another European Civ in a game that was full of them.